Martin Brudermuller, the company's CEO said: 'BASF's diversified portfolio offers advantages, especially in difficult times. Not all of our industries are equally affected by the pandemic. They show different degrees of resilience. For example, pharma, detergents and cleaners and food… are experiencing additional demand.'
In the company's materials business, sales fell by 1.9% between the first quarter 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, to EUR 2.87bn. This compares with EUR 2.93bn in the equivalent period in 2019. EBITDA in the division fell 15.8% to EUR 415m, compared with with EUR 493m in the 2019 quarter.
BASF blamed lower margins year-on-year in the ethylene and propylene value chain, as well as for isocyanates and polyamide precursors. Earnings in these segments were lower, and fixed costs were higher than in Q1 2019.
In the materials segment, considerable earnings growth in performance materials division did not compensate for the decline in monomers.
The company has withdrawn its earnings guidance issued on 28 February. It said: 'It is currently impossible to reliably estimate both the length and the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.'
Shutdowns in the automotive and other business areas will hit the company, it added, and there will be considerable falls in sales for the second quarter. However, the company expects a slow recovery for the third and fourth quarters. '[The situation is] extremely uncertain and not predictable,' it concluded.